Mark Twain

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do ...
Explore. Dream. Discover." Mark Twain

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Old School Blogging

I stop in regularly to visit at Paula's Place.  She has the most interesting topics on her blog.  During the month of July she had one topic called Old School Blogging that drew me in, and so ... here we go with the big 5 of everything ....

Five things I have a passion for:
(husband, children, mom, sister, cousins, 
they would eat up all of my 5 - so they are under the big topic of "family")
My cats and granddogs
 (they are 5 all by themselves)
Knitting and related crafts
 (knitting, crocheting, weaving, spinning - again, too many to list separately)
(it is a passion but I wish I was doing it more.)

Five things I'd like to learn before I die:
How to be a more forgiving person.
How to spin wool enough to make a sweater.
How to say "no" without feeling bad about it.
How to take my pills everyday - the way they are prescribed.
How to be more quiet, separate, just "be."

Five Things I say a lot
Sh** on a stick!
You know ...
Give me a break ...
Actually ...

Five books and or magazines I have read lately
These will have to be Audiobooks mostly.
World War Z by Max Brooks
Wool by Hugh Howey
The Stand by Stephen King
Pavilion of Women by Pearl S. Buck
Separation of Power by Vince Flynn (a series of books)

Five Favorite Movies
Ben Hur
Alien (first movie)
Aliens (second movie)
The God Father Series
Tucker and Dale verses Evil
(Seriously, check this last movie out on Netflix. It could be described as a corny bad movie.
 Probably is.
 It starts slow, but it builds to the funniest series of mishaps I have EVER watched.  
I laughed so hard I was choking and tears were running down my cheeks. Just amazing.) 

Five places I would like to travel to:
Alaska (return trip)
The Grand Canyon
(little chance of any of this happening, but wishful thinking is allowed.)

Five people I invite to do this Meme:
I typically hate this part of any blog event or award -
the inviting of other bloggers to participate and they really don't want too.
So here is where I invite all of you to pick one of these topics
and just share it in my comments section ...
or not!
I'll still love you anyway.

Well ... that was fun.  Try it.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Nothing to blog about ...

... she says after another brief blogging absence.

Could it be that my life is just that boring?  Probably.

Oh wait, there was the stunning multi-car accident that I happened upon while I was going out to pick up Chinese food!  Just 1/4 mile from my house.
Yes, that SUV is on top of and crushing another car!

The car with the missing front end was the third one in this accident.
There were 2 fire engines, 3 ambulances, 4 police cars, and 2 large tow trucks all gathered in a very small intersection.  Looks like someone was traveling just too fast in a effort to make the light and two other cars were in the right place at the wrong time.  Amazing ... and never seen on this quiet little intersection. No way to know about injuries, but I am just hoping no one was killed.

Not boring I guess.

I did, however, visit a new Community Center just 10 minutes from my house.  Just 10 minutes away, only 2 years old, and I had absolutely no idea the building was even there.  (Do I live in a paper bag or what!)  They have a great indoor walking track and in this muggy hot weather, an indoor air conditioned track sounds just fine.  I prefer being outside but when conditions are so terrible that I can't take a deep breath - indoors I go!  They also have a state-of-the-art gym with great looking equipment.  Seniors (which I am), can use the gym for $25 a year!  How's that for a deal?  Use of the walking track is free!  Can't beat the price.

My walking has taken quite a hit this summer.    Walking and breathing at the same time is kind of important!  But I am still loving my FibBit Flex.  That is why I am eager to find a viable option for walking indoors on these terrible days.

At my dad's grave site.
Several weeks ago I had a chance to visit my Dad's grave.  My sister and I were doing some planning on mom's behalf and it took us to his grave site.  He died in 1970.  Even after all these years, and after all the bad memories of my upbringing, it gave my heart a tug to see his name on the tomb stone.

Rest in peace, dear dad.  Sorry I don't visit more often.  I know you were ill with alcoholism and when you lived there wasn't much help for that.  At least I have a few good memories and mementoes of your life.  I wish you had lived long enough to meet your grandchildren.  You would be proud of them.

Finally, here is a picture I have been holding on to a bit.
Easter at Brooke Grove
I love this picture of mom with one of the activity coordinators dressed as an Easter bunny.  They really try to make the holidays grand for the residents.  Easter was a good day for mom.  Lately she has had days when she mostly sleeps.  Then other days she seems more alert.  She has Congestive Heart Failure and these up and down periods are fairly normal.  We just take each day as it comes.

She has started to ask me again when she is "going home."  It breaks my heart when she says that as I want to think she is content where she is.  Coming back home now is next to impossible.  She can't climb even one step and I have tons of them.  And her care has reached a level beyond my abilities.  So technically she is "home."  During our last Family Meeting, the staff reported that mom seems "content."  Maybe she is content  at times, but there must be a small part of her that is not content.  It continues to pain me.

Guess there were a few topics to blog about after all!  :-)

Hope you all are doing well this hot summer.  Be back again soon.

Monday, July 8, 2013

FitBit Flex

I have a new pedometer as of the middle of June.  My daughter gifted me a FitBit Flex for Mother's Day.

FitBit Flex
Photo Credit:
Long time readers know that I have struggled with maintaining a walking program.  Walking is my preferred form of exercise.  There is nothing like slipping out the door for a quick (or long) walk with my iPod playing my current audio book or just enjoying a beautiful morning when the weather is inviting.  It beats gathering my stuff for a trip to a gym, getting in the car and driving, parking, waiting for time on equipment, etc. etc. etc.  But my success at keeping to a walking program has been spotty.

So walking it is.

It is helpful for me to have a quantitative measure of how active I am.  It keeps me honest.  It pushes me to do better.  My tool for doing that has always been a pedometer.  And I have had a bunch of them.

My new favorite pedometer is the Fit Bit Flex - for a lot of reasons.

  • The model is worn on the wrist. It only comes off to be charged.
  • It tracks just about everything, but steps are my interest.  There is, however,  no face with numbers - just a small line of 5 lights.  I don't miss seeing the numbers at all.  If I am curious, I just open my phone, hit the App Icon, the device syncs automatically - and there is my total.  In fact, I think I prefer not having those numbers staring at me on the device.  It takes the pressure off for achieving a certain number ... but keeps me moving all the same.
  • When I reach my goal - for me it is 10,000 steps - the lights flash and the band vibrates.  Pretty cool, as well.
  • The device is meant to sync to your computer or Smart Phone.  This can happen automatically when within a certain range of your computer or phone, or you can manually sync when you log on to your phone or computer.  This feature is pretty awesome.
  • Step totals do not roll of memory after 7 days like many pedometers.  The totals are out there when you want to see them.
  • The battery must be recharged every 6 to 7 days.
  • The device is water proof - apparently you can even shower with it.
  • It can also be set to track the quality of your sleep - a very cool feature.
  • Because it syncs to a free website, you can have "friends" and can easily see how they are doing.  You can even send messages back and forth.
  • And it appears to be very accurate.
There are many features I haven't even touched on - more features I use - but I will say this is the best pedometer that I have ever used.  It's a winner. 

So, if any of you great folks are already FitBit users and are looking for a new "friend" to help inspire you to walk, please let me know.  

Sunday, July 7, 2013

One last yarn-y stash post: a question!

Picture credit:

No, this is not my yarn stash!  

But this is what my yarn stash feels like and resembles on occasion.  And this is what I spent time trying to fixing this week.

My current organizational system is not even as systematic as this picture, but I do try to get it all to fit in one full size closet.  When new yarn comes into the house, it gets stacked on a card table until it can be logged in Ravelry and I have time to problem solve where it will go. The card table is just a temporary option.  You see I share that room with my husband who visits daily to work on his computer.  When he enters the room everything usually looks, well ... normal.  The yarn stash is mostly not visible.  

He knows better than to open the closet (he did that only once and quickly slammed it closed before he lost control of the contents and needed to send out an SOS!)  As long as my hobby stays safely contained in a confined space that is seldom viewed, he can claim plausible deniability.  His wife is still normal and may need to (on occasion) buy more yarn.  :-)

Really ... he is mentally just fine, but "out-of-sight, out-of-mind" plays big in our house.

It is a method that works for us!

But back to the storage issues:  I did manage to get all my cotton yarn together (gosh I have a lot of cotton yarn,) all my weaving yarn together (ditto on the weaving yarn), and all my wool fiber together.  Oh, that's right.  I haven't talked about my wool fiber stash! Once I am spinning will be  ... wait for it ... yarn! (See why I didn't talk about it?)

All the other skeins are stored wherever there is a space in the closet plastic drawers or in plastic bags squeezed in spaces between the drawers.  I try to make sure I use bags that you can see through - so I don't have to dig too far to find stuff. Plastic may save me from the horrors of a stray moth setting up housekeeping in my collection. (Dread beyond measure!)

But as a "Collector" of yarn, this storage system seems chaotic and disrespectful to my stash.

I would love to hear how you manage your storage of anything - we all store stuff, we all have our methods, even if you aren't a yarn hoarder collector like me.  How do you do it?  What are the challenges you have and what have you done to overcome it?

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Knitting and a Confession

I am a knitter!  I dabble in a number of other fiber related crafts - but if I could choose exactly one activity to be stranded with me on an isolated tropical island ... it would be knitting.  I wouldn't be able to wear any of my creations because tropical islands are hot and knitting produces warm garments but no matter!

That is not my confession.

This year I have several project goals - all of them are pretty big.

I finished my mom's shawl. The story of why this shawl was pushed to the top of my project list can be found at this post.  It just needs a few ends woven in and blocking.  I wish this was a shawl that I could leave with mom all the time - but Assisted Living laundry is unforgiving.  Everything gets cleaned using much heat and agitation - which is 'death' to wool.  So the shawl will make periodic visits only.  I am still thinking about buying some beautiful acrylic for a shawl that she can keep with her - but extending my project list is a low priority ... and buying more yarn is not ... *sigh* ... well, more about that later.

This is also not my confession.

My daughter's lace shawl (with fingering weight yarn and #1 needles - (yes, #1 needles - who the heck makes a shawl out of toothpicks - and before you say - use bigger needles - the pattern suggested #0 needles - insane I say!!!) .... anyway, I get distracted.  My daughter's lace shawl was about 8 inches in depth when I decided that:  1)  I couldn't live with the small errors I had made,   2) that I would always see those irregularities and be bothered by them,   3)  that I would forever cringe when Kris would proudly tell people that her mother made the shawl,  4) that is OK to be anal and want perfection.  So I ripped it all out and started again.  Here is my second try.

And just for the record:  I am an Aries.  That means I am stubborn, bull headed, persistent and ornery.  I have no intention of letting this thread-like yarn and tiny tiny needles best me!

I have also started a Faery Ring jacket for my cousin, Leslie.  It is in the beginning stages but the process has begun.

All together now ... no, this is not her confession.

There are two other projects - my own sweater and a pair of socks - that are on the needles, but are not picture worthy yet.  There are a few other projects on my list, but they are not even close to getting cast on the needles.

Now for the confession.

My yarn stash!  

For my non-knitting readers: a yarn stash is a bunch yarns (or fibers, or cloth ...) that is owned by you but not presently being used.  It might have projects assigned to them, or it might be yarn that you just had to own because you physically could not walk away from it.  Most knitters have a stash of yarn.  Most knitters have enough years left in their lives to use up their stash of yarn.

Then there is me!

About 2 years ago I did an inventory.  I listed the yarn by maker, weight, and color - I also noted how many yards I had of each entry.

Two years ago that yardage number was 143,000 yards - (pause for gasps).  For non-knitters that is about 79 miles of yarn (the gasps grow in volume).  And based on using about 5,000 yards of yarn a year (equal to about 2 sweaters and several smaller projects), I would have enough yarn to last me 28 years even if I never bought another skein of yarn (pause for a belly laugh - mine, of course.)  I was however, appalled at the quantity of yarn I had amassed.  It was a bit embarrassing.  The total would slowed my acquisition of yarn!  I was glad I did the inventory.

One year ago I updated my inventory - deleting yarns I had used and adding new ones.  Remarkably my yardage total was now 156,000+ yards or 88 miles of yarn.  That is an increase of 13,000 yards.  13,000 YARDS more yarn!!  GASP!  Just not possible!  Now I could live another 31 years without running out of yarn - (time for math:  I was 65 then so I wouldn't run out until I was 96 years old.)  I did some soul searching.  If that yarn was not developing gonads (I haven't entirely ruled that out yet) and increasing yarn babies on its own - then I had bought all those 13,000 yards.

So I did the only reasonable thing I could think of.  I decided that I was no longer a stasher of yarn - I was a "collector" of yarn.  That sounded so much better.  Yes, a Collector - with a capital C!  I would still be cautious in my purchases, but as a serious "Collector", I was "normal" (an important word) - adding only unique selections to my "collection."


(Is anyone else "buying" my assessment of this yarn stashing problem?)

This week I updated my inventory again.  (I really need to stop doing that!)

Let see hands of how many think the inventory has gone down (great wasteland of silence!)

You are right, it went up.

Let see hands of how many think the inventory increased less than before (great wasteland of silence!!)

You are right, it went up alot!  (and I hate that you knew this!)

Drum roll please.

My current inventory of yarns is 188,475 yards, 107 miles of yarn ... I could live to be 104 years old before I run out of yarn.  HOLY COW!  I increased my yarn from last year by 34,475 yards!  (and secretly I think I missed a few yards in this count - but whose counting, right?)

I am now past "soul searching."  That was a worthless endeavor. I am now in survival mode.  I am still just a Collector (yes, I am), but if I reach 200,000 yards by this time next year - I will need to change my title from Yarn Collector to Yarn Store Owner or Hoarder!

I vote for Yarn Store Owner - a unique yarn store where I don't sell any of my inventory.  Yes, that is it!  A unique store owner that does not sell stuff!!

Unique is still normal, right?


Well, that is all for now.  Need to get knitting.

Also need to shop for some nice acrylic yarn for my mom's shawl!

(Oh my, did I say that out loud?)

Kiparoo Farm

Don't you hate it ... when you discover a vendor you patronize ... a vendor with a charming name for their business ... a name that triggers memories of an idyllic setting ... a name that in your mind's eye you want to visit to just get away ... don't you hate it when you find out that this vendor is not anything like the name they have picked???

Well ...
that is most definitely not the case with Kiparoo Farm. 

Kiparoo Farm is even better than my mind's eye imagined.  My sister and I made the trip to visit Kiparoo Farm this past weekend.  This is an actual working farm where sheep graze and cows are milked.  And it is only about one hour from my house.

Kiparoo Farm
Annie Kelley
3511 Bussard Road
Middletown, MD 21769

I have been a yearly visitor to their fair stand at The Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival.  I own a lovely selection of their yarns.

This wonderful farm is located in rural Maryland. 

The farm house serves as the home and studio for Annie Kelley who is the owner of the Kiparoo Farm yarn brand.  The yarn is from her sheep.  She freely talks about her life as a farmer - and as a milker of cows.  And her enthusiasm for her life and craft is infectious!

This farm dates back to the 1700s and she says there is actually one very dilapidated building on the grounds from that time.  The farm house was built in the 1800s.

 She is surrounded by beautiful rolling farm country.

The first floor of the house has 3 rooms that serve as her studio.  

But through all the windows, glimpses of the farm can be seen.  

Of course, for knitters like my sister and I, the yarn is the star of the show.  
One of my favorites is her Silk Road - 50% Marino Wool, 50% Silk.
  There is little that compares to the feel of this yarn.

The colors of this yarn were so much better in person!
Darn camera!

It goes without saying that I bought some yummy yarn.
  A wonderful cotton called Celtic Cotton now has a new home with me.
  The moment I saw it I knew that some of this great stuff was going to be mine.

This cotton is machine wash and dry.  It is spun around a central core that prevents the cotton from sagging - something that cotton is prone to  do.

All of her yarns have pattern support - and samples of the patterns are on display in the studio.
The basic patterns are well written and attractively presented.

 The farm even has a mission statement ...

Amazingly, I did not get any pictures of the sheep or the cows!  Go figure!  But I know I will be making this trip again and will correct that omission.  It would be a wonderful day trip when my cousins come to visit.

Thank you Annie Kelley for your gracious assistance - spending much precious time away from your farm duties with my sister and I.  Our visit was memorable.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

A Yearly Bath

Trust no one!


Trust no one!

So here I am, the Meathead, the main dog, the man ...
at my Papa's camp grounds.  
Soaking in the beautiful sun.  
Life is good!  I am with all my peoples.
  No problems on my radar!

Suddenly the sun is blocked - by too many bodies!

Hmmm... too much attention focused on me!

Hey, Meathead, Milo here.  This doesn't look good.  Not good.
Not good at all!

What!!!  Water on my back?
I think I remember this happening before.
This is not a good development!

Crap!  Soap!  

This is not going to throw me!
  Proceed with dignity!

Sigh!  Water again!  

OK, guys.  You knew this was coming. 
The Shake!
Ah, better.

This is unacceptable.  I am not happy.

I will not forget!  

I am never going to forget this, Grandma.  You could have rescued me instead of taking pictures.

My eyes are closed. My expectations are totally dashed!  

Finally.  A towel!  

I repeat!  
Trust no one.